Philip Kitcher’s three rules for what constitutes ‘good science’ are a) Independent testability 2) Ontological unity and 3) Fecundity. In this essay we shall evaluate the theory of Global Warming under these criteria.
In the so-called controversy over Global Warming, there are two sides. On one side are the majority of scientists of the world who argue that an increase of greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere since the beginning of industrialization is resulting in rapid changes to the climate (Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change).
On the other hand there is a minority of researchers and many political activists that claim that the rising levels of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will have no effect on Earth’s climate (pewclimate.org).
The argument that an excess of gasses such as methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing climate change relies on the fact that that these gases are ‘greenhouse gases’ which retain heat much more than nitrogen and oxygen, the main components of Earth’s atmosphere. This is a known and proven fact in science and can be repeated anywhere. For example, if a transparent balloon filled with carbon dioxide or methane and one with a normal atmospheric mix of gases are both kept in the sun for an equal period of time and then moved back into the shade, the balloon with carbon dioxide or methane in it will take longer to cool down than the one with a normal mix of atmospheric gases in it.
Those who argue that excess carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere will not cause any changes in the Earth’s climate cite the complex nature of the Earth’s climate with multiple factors affecting it and the undependable nature of climatic models to argue that the increase in one factor that increases heat retention may be cancelled out by other factors such as an increase in cloud formations that reflect sunlight back into space (pewclimate.org). Cloud formation is not a well understood process; it is difficult to predict whether cloud formation would happen or not (pewclimate.org). In essence those that espouse this position wish to continue doing activities with potentially hazardous consequences with the hope that somehow they would be spared the consequences of those activities.
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